Tooth Piercing: Everything You Need to Know

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Table of Contents

  1. What Is Tooth Piercing?
  2. Types of Tooth Piercing
  3. What is the Procedure?
  4. Who Performs Tooth Piercing?
  5. Are Tooth Piercings Safe?
  6. What are the Complications?
  7. Cost

Tooth décor, once all the rage in the late 1990s and again in the late 2010s, appears to be making a major comeback, with diamond-studded grillz appearing on the runway and on the social media of celebrities ranging from Justin Bieber to Beyoncé to Jeff Goldblum

But grills aren’t the only way that models and musicians are expressing their unique smile style. Tooth piercings, or tooth gems, are also having a moment. 

Tooth piercings, which involve gems or crystals attached to a single tooth or multiple teeth, are perhaps a more subtle, but still attention-grabbing, way to show off some dental bling. Celebrities who’ve flashed tooth piercings include Rihanna, FKA Twigs, Pink, Hailey Bieber, and Bella Hadid.

What is tooth piercing?

A tooth piercing, or tooth gem, is a jewel, stone, or piece of jewelry that’s attached or bonded to one or multiple teeth. The gems are usually very small and placed on the very front or anterior teeth. 

Although tooth gems are known as tooth piercings, the vast majority are not piercings at all. A hole is not drilled into the tooth, and the jewelry piece does not go through the tooth. Instead, a jewel is glued or cured onto the tooth using glue and UV light. 

The exception to this is permanent tooth gems, which are very rarely performed and do involve drilling into the tooth. For the most part, when people talk about tooth piercings or tooth gems, they are referring to removable, glued-on tooth jewelry.

Types of tooth piercing

For tooth piercings or tooth jewels, any type of jewelry can be attached to the tooth’s surface, although for the piece to be comfortable and appealing, most will choose a very small gem or design.

Popular tooth piercing stones include diamonds, rubies, and amethysts. Gold or silver designs, such as butterflies or even logos or letters, are also options. Model Adwoa Aboah was spotted wearing a Chanel logo tooth jewel, for example. At the Sundance Festival in 2019, an L.A. beauty brand offered Swarovski crystal tooth gems to guests.

What is the procedure for tooth piercings?

Unlike an actual piercing, tooth piercings are usually painless, as there is no actual piercing or trauma. Instead, the chosen piece of jewelry is simply attached to the tooth. 

Usually, the jewelry is simply glued on. For more permanent tooth jewels, the piece of jewelry may also be cemented on. If there is any tooth sensitivity, there may be discomfort during the process.

While the procedure for tooth piercings or tooth gems will vary depending on the type of jewelry and where the procedure is performed, NYC celebrity orthodontist Bobbi Peterson did recently share her general routine for attaching tooth gems with Business Insider. She explained that the entire process takes about five minutes:

  • The tooth is isolated using cotton rolls and retractor.

  • The tooth is cleaned and dried.

  • The tooth is primed for jewel glue with an etching solution.

  • The etching solution is wiped off and more air is applied to again dry tooth.

  • A sealant bond is applied to the tooth and dried with UV light.

  • Glue is placed over the sealant.

  • The tooth gem is set in place with wax.

  • The patient confirms they like the gem placement.

  • The gem is cured to the tooth and sealant with UV light. This takes about one minute.

  • The gem is polished and is ready.

For the first 24 hours after having a tooth gem applied, an individual should eat soft foods, and avoid touching the gem or using an electric toothbrush. Coffee and soda should be avoided as these acidic drinks can affect the freshly formed bond. 

Depending on the procedure, a tooth gem could last anywhere from a few weeks to six months or a year. They can be removed at any point by the dentist, who can polish the jewel and adhesive off.

Who performs tooth piercing?

While some jewelers and tooth gem providers may offer tooth piercing or tooth gem attachment, the safest place to have a tooth gem put in place is at the dentist’s office. Dentists have gone through rigorous training to understand tooth and oral health, and they understand the level of sanitization and caution needed to safely attach anything to a tooth. 

DIY tooth gem kits are also available from internet retailers and tooth gem jewelers. While some of these at-home kits have good reviews and many have had success in using them to attach tooth gems, the risks of an improper application are higher when trying to apply tooth gems yourself.

Are tooth piercings safe?

Even as tooth jewels and tooth piercings make headlines and rise in popularity, many experts still disagree over the safety and potential risks of these oral accessories. 

Some dental professionals argue that with proper application and care, tooth piercings and tooth gems are relatively low risk and offer individuals a chance to explore their style with a dental accessory that’s small and safe. Tooth gems don’t affect the structure of the tooth, they point out, and they are easily removable.

Others see tooth gems and piercings as a trend to avoid. Any time there’s something attached to the tooth, there’s more opportunity for plaque bacteria and food particles to get caught between the attachment and the tooth. This can create plaque and bacteria buildup, which may cause tooth decay and gum problems — the two main sources of all oral health problems.

What are the complications of tooth piercing?

Besides an increased risk of gum irritation and tooth decay, tooth jewels and piercings may involve other serious complications, including these:

  • There may be an allergic reaction to the glue used to attach the jewelry. This is much more of a concern for DIY tooth jewel kits or tooth piercings performed in a non-dentist setting. The glue can also be ingested during an improper application. 

  • The metal or jewel can potentially cause gum or inner cheek irritation. A sharp or edged jewel can irritate these areas as well.

  • The gem may fall out of place and be swallowed while sleeping or eating.

  • Improperly removed glue can strip away enamel with it. Removal should always be performed by professionals.

  • Any trapped bacteria or food particles between gem and tooth can cause bad breath that may be very difficult to combat.

  • Veneers may be more fragile than natural teeth, and they can be damaged from a tooth jewel. Anyone with veneers should consult with a dentist before considering a tooth piercing.

How much do tooth piercings cost?

The price of a tooth jewel will vary depending on the type of jewelry being applied. For example, a diamond tooth gem will be more costly than a silver one.

The price of an inexpensive tooth piercing may begin at around $50 to 100, while more bling-worthy pieces can cost around $500 or more, per tooth.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.